Answer

Tape archiving with a vaulting provider

Do tape vaulting providers offer any specific features or services related to archiving?

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First, I think it’s important to note the difference between a backup and an archive. An archive is the official (i.e., legal) copy of data for business use, whether it is a disk archive or tape archive. A backup is a data protection copy of data. A backup typically protects a pool of active, changeable data, but archives also must have data protection copies made of them.

Tape vaulting providers have always housed deep archive tapes in addition to backup tapes. As active archive data is online (albeit with slower access time if on tape), only data protection copies of an active archive are in an off-site tape archive. From an operational perspective, deep archive tapes would be returned to an IT organization only on an ad hoc basis when requested -- whereas backup tapes would be returned on a scheduled rotational basis.

Also, security is always important; obviously, any breach can have serious consequences. Luckily, tape security can be easily addressed with encryption. If your priority is making sure that the data is not altered in any way (such as for legal purposes), then WORM (Write Once Read Many) tape cartridges can be used. But this should be done sparingly though as the tapes cannot be recycled (go through a scratch process) for later use in a tape rotational, or generational, scheme – such as a grandparent-parent-child arrangement.

This was first published in June 2012

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